I decided to pursue weaving as an art form after a weaving experience I had at Selling Yarns 2, Canberra 2009. I had the honour of learning a twist/coiling technique with Aunty Roslyn Malngumba, a Liya-Dhalinymirr elder from Marparu. I felt so happy and at peace weaving and aunty Roslyn was so impressed by my weaving that she said to me, ‘You’re meant to weave.’ I’ve also been influenced by weavers like Aunty Maureen Lander from Aotearoa, New Zealand and artist Rosanna Raymond.
Earlier this year I embarked on a national weaving project, ‘Please can I weave with you’. This project is about developing my skills as an Australian based ‘Matuauu’ (Super Weaver) by creating collaborations with other culturally diverse established artists, solo work, residencies and weaving workshops. This project also looks at the power of weaving to create community and how artists can activate relationships between communities and local museums and galleries who have collections of work from those cultural groups. So far, I have been to Selling Yarns 3, Canberra, Floating Lands, Noosa and Nesian Pride with Sunameke in Darwin.
As part of ‘Please can I weave with you’, I collaborated with Julia Gray, Director of Sunameke Dance Company in Darwin. We created new works for Sunameke’s dance performances at Nesian Pride, a celebration of Darwin’s Pasifika and cultural communities. Under Julia’s direction, I was able to create some prototypes of work that reflect the cultures of Sunameke’s dancers, including India, Papua New Guinea, and Maori and the dance styles they are trained in, such as Tahitian. This collaboration epitomises the importance of trust and exchange. Julia and her team at Sunameke are highly skilled dancers and incredibly generous teachers. Their love for family and passing on culture is inspiring. Julia even encouraged me to be part of the Siva Samoa (Samoan dance) for Nesian Pride with Former Miss Samoa, Maryjane McKibbon-Schwenke. Looking back, I think it was Julia’s way of inducting or welcoming me into her ‘family’ of artists and dancers. At first I was extremely uncomfortable with it because Siva Samoa is outside my comfort zone and skill, but Julia has a knack of knowing whose mind and spirit is still malleable, generous and open to learning. Weaving and learning with Sunameke helped me to overcome my fears of Siva Samoa. This body of work is also the first time my body adornment pieces have been worn for dance. I really enjoyed seeing my work come to life in this way.
Maryann Talia Pau is exhibiting in Melbourne Now.